Friday, Nov 17, 2017
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Retail

Idea born of difficulty becomes Glass City business of care boxes

Husband’s cancer fight was inspiration for Springfield Twp. woman

  • b6boxes4

    Jessica Bohl works with care packages that she fills with essential oils, lip balm, and other products in her self-built business to make hospital patients’ lives easier and help their loved ones comfort them.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
    Buy This Image

  • b6box3-2

    Bees enter and exit a hive near the home of Jessica Bohl. Ms. Bohl uses wax from the hives, owned by her uncle, for products in her business Medsalve Co.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
    Buy This Image

  • b6box2-1

    Some of the products contained in The Drew Box.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
    Buy This Image

  • b6box

    Lisa Holman, left, and her daughter Jessica Bohl prepare to melt beeswax to make products for the Drew Box, gift boxes with handmade essential oils, lip balms, room sprays, and so forth for cancer patients inspired by Ms. Bohl's husband who has been battling cancer.

    THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
    Buy This Image

As Jessica Bohl’s husband lay in a hospital bed fighting through the initial days and weeks of his surprise stage four cancer diagnosis at age 50, she felt even more powerless than him.

“It was so hard to know how to be helpful and what to do other than just sit there,” Ms. Bohl said.

Ultimately, she found some comfort being able to provide him with items he wanted but couldn’t get at the hospital — Vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunlight, natural probiotics, essential oils believed to promote better circulation.

Traumatic a time as it was, the experience supplied her with an idea that she might be able to develop a sort of care package that caretakers and family members could use to engage with and comfort their loved ones.

“I really wanted to come up with things he would request or things that worked well for us and then put them more into a gift package,” she said in a recent interview at the Springfield Township home she shares with her husband and their two sons.

She kicked around the idea with friends but put it on the back burner until last year, when her mother mentioned the idea to her brother, a neurosurgeon working in Arizona. He in turn encouraged Ms. Bohl to pursue it, even suggesting it might fit into a patient satisfaction program at the Barrows Neurological Institute, one of the nation’s leading neurosurgical centers.

“That really motivated me to actually put something real together. I went out to Phoenix and presented a prototype and the doctors really loved it. It was really well received,” she said.

After making some tweaks, the center ordered 150 boxes and her new business, Medsalve Co., was off the ground.

“It’s been great. She basically took a dire, horrible situation and turned it into something positive and life affirming,” said her husband, Drew Naprawa. “It’s really inspiring for that kind of situation.”

The company’s main offering is the Drew Box, a sturdy-looking container that’s stuffed with a moisturizing oils, supplement pills, a sleep mask, lip balm, lotions, candles, and a number of simple yoga stretches that Ms. Bohl said can be done from a patient’s bed.

About half the items — including the lip balm, essential oils, and candle — are handmade by Ms. Bohl and her mother, Lisa Holman. The box sells for $99.95, though some items are available for individual purchase. There’s also a smaller version of the box that sells for $49.95. They can be ordered online at www.thedrewbox.com.

Ms. Bohl said the items are meant to give relief to a patient as well as provide caregivers things they can do with a patient.

“A big part of the boxes is to give the caregiver tools to interact with the person who’s sick and feel helpful and effective and have something to do other than bring flowers and say how do you feel,” she said.

Her products are also somewhat of a bridge between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine, something of which Mr. Naprawa is a big proponent.

When he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, Mr. Naprawa was given six months to a year to live. While he’s not cancer free, at 5½ years on, he’s blown past that initial prognosis with a combination of mainstream and alternative therapies.

“Just watching her develop the box and go forward with it, for me it’s been a healthy thing,” he said.

Ms. Bohl has begun selling boxes to individuals and is working to connect with more care organizations. She recently shipped a number of boxes to an Alzheimer’s group in southwest Florida and is eager to see how patients in Arizona rate their experience with the product.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2015 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…